Menlo Park: The surprising culprit behind power outage


The flash of an explosion, the sounding of a fire alarm, and the darkness of a power outage all followed in quick succession around 6:33 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, near 1275 Crane St. in downtown Menlo Park.

The power outage left two people trapped in elevators at 1275 and 1331 Crane St. Fire crews arrived shortly thereafter and those trapped were freed within 20 minutes, according to Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.

When local residents went out to investigate the cause of the explosion, they found their smoking gun: a smoldering squirrel, found in the gutter near the power lines, according to Fire Captain Seth Johnson.

The squirrel had tried to bite the power line, PG&E representatives believe, and that likely caused the explosion and the resulting outage.

PG&E was on the scene within a half hour and electricity was restored by around 8 p.m. The area affected by the outage contained roughly 1,700 PG&E electricity customers, according to Mr. Schapelhouman.

"Sadly, I'm told, the perpetrator, a Grey Squirrel, sustained significant injuries from both electrocution and a significant fall that ended his life," he said. "It all happened in the blink of an eye and we don't think he suffered at all."


8 people like this
Posted by Elsie Floriani
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 17, 2016 at 12:36 pm

The outage wasn't a big problem, even if I had to climb 9 stories of stairs to get to my apartment on the 9th floor, but I feel just terrible for the little squirrel. Don't we have little discs or something on the wires that would stop anything from getting to the critical point of causing an outage? It could be really serious for someone on a breathing machine or something similar.*

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